What is GATE Exam? Some Frequently Asked Questions on GATE

The first thing that a student thinks after joining in an undergraduate engineering or science degree course is ‘what is GATE exam?’. If all that you want is a job in a PSU or having a post-graduation degree from IIT/NIT/IIIT, GATE exam is a must. This Q/A based overview of the GATE exam provides all information about GATE eligibility criteria, GATE exam pattern, GATE application fees, eligible disciplines for GATE, calculation of GATE score and many more.

What is GATE Exam?

GATE, the acronym for Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering, is an examination where the comprehensive understanding of various undergraduate subjects in engineering and Science are being primarily tested. It is one of the most competitive examinations in India. The GATE score of a candidate reflects the relative performance level of a candidate.

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Who conducts GATE Exam?

GATE is conducted jointly by the Indian Institute of Science and seven Indian Institutes of Technologies at Roorkee, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Chennai (Madras) and Bombay on behalf of the National Coordination Board-GATE, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD), Government of India.

Which disciplines are eligible for GATE?

At present, GATE is conducted in the following 23 disciplines. A candidate can select any one of these. The candidate is expected to appear in a paper appropriate to the discipline of his/her qualifying degree. However, the candidate is, free to choose any paper according to his/her admission plan.


GATE PaperCode
Aerospace Engg.AE
Agricultural Engg.AG
Architecture and PlanningAR
Civil Engg.CE
Chemical Engg.CH
Computer Science and I.T.CS
Electronics and Communication Engg.EC
Electrical Engg.EE
Ecology and EvolutionEY
Geology and GeophysicsGG
Instrumentation Engg.IN
Mechanical Engg.ME
Mining Engg.MN
Metallurgical Engg.MT
Petroleum Engg.PE
Production and Industrial Engg.PI
Textile Engg. and Fiber ScienceTF
Engineering SciencesXE*
Life SciencesXL**

There is a total of 14 paper sections that come under Papers XE* and XL**. The paper sections under XE* and XL** are defined by some dedicated codes which are mentioned in the following TABLE (B) and (C)


* Engineering Sciences (XE) Paper Sections
(A and any 2 of B to H)
Engineering Mathematics (Compulsory)A
Fluid MechanicsB
Materials ScienceC
Solid MechanicsD
Polymer Science and EngineeringF
Food TechnologyG
Atmospheric and Oceanic SciencesH


** Life Sciences (XL) Paper Sections
(P and any 2 of Q to U)
Chemistry (Compulsory)P
Food TechnologyU

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Why is GATE Exam important?

There are mainly two important reasons to appear in GATE exam:

I. Admission to postgraduate programs

Unlike undergraduate admissions in India, candidates must apply individually to each institute after the institute has published its M.Tech. notification. A valid good GATE score will avail students to have their Post Graduation from most reputed engineering colleges in India such as IIT/NIT/IIIT.

Students taking teaching assistantship (TA) during Master’s programs and direct Doctoral programs in Engineering / Technology / Architecture and Doctoral programs in relevant branches of Science in Institutes get a stipend of Rs.12,500/- every month.

II. Job Recruitment

Many companies have signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with the GATE organizing committee, for using GATE score as a screening tool for recruiting engineers at entry-level positions. Indian Oil Corporation was the first PSU which successfully tested out this system and was followed two years later by National Thermal Power CorporationBharat Heavy Electricals and Bharat Electronics & Power Grid Corporation of India.

How to apply for GATE Exam?

Once the GATE exam notification for a particular year is out, the online application forms will be available on the official website of GOAPS(GATE Online Application Processing System). Through this online interface, aspirants are able to apply for GATE. Expected date of notification is around September.

To begin with, aspirants were requested to visit – http://appsgate.iisc.ernet.in. Please note that it could also be accessed from the official website of the respective Zonal GATE Offices or from the website of the GATE  organizing institute of the respective year.

The application procedure involves registration, generating GOAPS Enrolment ID and password, filling personal and academic details, uploading the photograph, signature and left thumb impression along with other documents, etc.

Eligibility Criteria

To apply for GATE, candidates have to meet certain criteria with regard to the qualifying degree. Aspirants can look up the details below for the eligibility and ensure they meet the same before applying.

Important Points:

  • There is no age limit defined by the exam conducting authority to appear in GATE
  • Candidates may be Indian Nationals or from Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and United Arab Emirates (U.A.E)
  • Final year students are eligible to apply and must upload the scanned image of the third year (fifth/sixth semester) mark sheet
  • International candidates should have completed a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering or Master’s degree in Science in a relevant subject or must be in the final year of the program.

Eligible Qualifying Degree:

  • Bachelor in Engg. (B.E.)/Bachelor in Technology (B.Tech)
  • Bachelor in Architecture (B.Arch)
  • Bachelor in Science (B.Sc.)
  • Masters in Mathematics/Statistics/Science
  • Masters in Computer Applications (M.C.A.)
  • Integrated M.E/ M.Tech (Post BSc) (Four-year programme)
  • Integrated M.E./M.Tech or 5 year Dual Degree (Engineering / Technology)
  • Integrated M. Sc/Integrated 5 year B.S.-M.S.
  • Professional Society Examinations (equivalent to B.E/B.Tech)

What is the pattern of GATE Exam?

GATE is a 3 hours duration Computer Based Test (CBT), carried out in an online mode where the candidates are shown the questions in a random sequence on a computer screen. In all the papers, there will be a total of 65 questions carrying 100 marks, out of which 10 questions carrying a total of 15 marks are in General Aptitude (GA). Electronics devices along with physical calculator are not allowed in the examination hall. Students will be provided with virtual gate calculator on the computer screen for calculation purpose.

a) In the papers bearing the codes AE, AG, BT, CE, CH, CS, EC, EE, IN, ME, MN, MT, PI, TF, and XE:

  • General Aptitude section: 15 marks
  • Engineering Mathematics: 15 marks
  • Subject-specific: 70 marks

b) In the papers bearing the codes AR, CY, EY, GG, MA, PH, and XL:

  • General Aptitude section: 15 marks
  • Subject-specific: 85 marks

GATE contain questions of two different types in various papers:

  • Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) carrying 1 or 2 marks each in all papers and sections.These questions are objective in nature, and each will have a choice of four answers, out of which the candidate has to mark the correct answer(s).
  • Numerical Answer Type (NAT) Questions of 1 or 2 marks each in all papers and sections. For these questions the answer is a real number, to be entered by the candidate using the virtual keypad. No choices will be shown for this type of questions.

What is the cut-off score in GATE?

Students clearing the cut off marks assigned by the organizing institute are said to have qualified in the exam. Only the qualified students are eligible to apply for different institutes and PSUs if they fulfill the criterion given by the respective organizations.

CategoryQualifying mark (out of 100)
General (GN)25 or μ + σ, whichever is higher.
Other backward classes (OBC)90% of general category’s qualifying mark.
Scheduled Castes (SC) and scheduled tribes (ST)2/3 (i.e., 66.67%) of general category’s qualifying mark.

[ Note: ** μ is the average (i.e., arithmetic mean) of marks of all candidates in the subject (with negative marks converted to zero) and σ is the standard deviation of all marks in that subject ]

Usually, the general category’s qualifying mark is in the 25 to 50 range.

GATE scorecard is available from March 20 to May 31 (tentative) for only candidates who have qualified in the exam. The scorecard is valid for a period of 3 years for M.Tech admissions only from the date of announcement of the GATE result. GATE score is also used for PSU recruitment.

How is GATE score calculated?

GATE Score (out of 1000) along with the marks (out of 100) obtained by a candidate is already given in the GATE Score Card.

However, percentile which isn’t given in the GATE Scorecard is often asked, for e.g. The University of Singapore. A candidate’s percentile denotes the percentage of candidates scoring lower than that particular candidate. It is calculated as:

Percentile =  { 1   (All India Rank / Total no. of students appeared in that paper) } x 100%

What is the Application Fees for GATE?

For Examination Centres in India                                                   

  • Female candidates: Rs. 750
  • SC/ST/PwD* category candidates: Rs. 750
  • All other candidates: Rs. 1500

For Examination Centres in Foreign Countries (All Candidates)

  • Addis Ababa, Colombo, Dhaka, and Kathmandu: $50
  • Dubai and Singapore: $100


I hope this article on what is GATE exam, will give the aspirants a much clear vision regarding the exam. Though this article is more or less for the aspirants who have just started thinking about the GATE exam, it will also serve certain queries of the already preparing students. I have tried to provide maximum information about the GATE exam in very understandable manner and I hope that you guys like it. If you have any other queries regarding GATE examination, please feel free to share with us in the comments section below.

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